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Hernandez hits three home runs, powering Dodgers past Cubs 11-1 to win NL pennant

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The Dodgers will appear in the World Series for the first time since 1988 after defeating the Cubs 11-1 in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night. The Dodgers scored early and often, making Thursday’s affair devoid of any stress.

Cody Bellinger drove in a run with a double against Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the first inning. Enrique Hernandez tacked on a solo home run to center field in the second. The Dodgers broke it open in the third, as Quintana allowed hits to all four hitters he faced in the inning: a ground-rule double to Chris Taylor, an RBI single to Justin Turner, and two more singles to Bellinger and Yasiel Puig. Hector Rondon relieved Quintana and, after striking out Logan Forsythe, he served up a grand slam to Hernandez to make it a 7-0 game. Forsythe hit a two-run double off of John Lackey in the fourth pad the lead to 9-0. Hernandez added a third home run, a two-run shot, off of Mike Montgomery in the ninth to push the score to 11-1.

Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a playoff game and the fifth to knock in seven runs. The other four were in the American League, so Hernandez’s seven RBI marks a new National League record.

Kris Bryant hit a solo home run off of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, but that was it for offense on the Cubs’ side. Kershaw tossed six innings in total, allowing the one run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts spanning 89 pitches.

Kenta Maeda took over for Kershaw in the seventh, working a 1-2-3 inning. Brandon Morrow got the eighth and worked around a one-out single with three strikeouts.

With a 10-run lead, closer Kenley Jansen took the hill in the ninth. He got Bryant to line out to left field, Anthony Rizzo to fly out, and Willson Contreras to line out to shortstop to seal the 11-1 victory — and the pennant — for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers will wait to see who they will face in the World Series. The Yankees are one game away from punching their ticket, leading the ALCS 3-2. They’ll match up with the Astros in Houston on Friday.

If the Yankees end up being the Dodgers’ World Series opponent, it will be the two clubs’ 12th meeting in the Fall Classic. As Craig noted on Twitter, the Yankees have the upper hand, having won eight of those 11 series.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.